Boutique US brand DVO offers a couple of longer-travel forks, with this 170mm travel DVO Onyx SC D1 being its beefiest single crown
While the DVO Onyx SC D1 fork’s 36mm legs are slightly skinnier than the latest from Fox and RockShox, tapered alloy stanchions, thicker crown materials and long bushings ensure plenty of rigidity. The Onyx is around 100g heavier than DVO’s other 36mm (Diamond) fork, and, despite those skinnier legs, it’s one of the heaviest forks on test. But is also definitely one of the best mountain bike forks for enduro use.
Using the same D1 damper as the brand’s DH fork sees a sealed cartridge with expanding bladder inside to adapt to changes in oil volumes as the piston cycles. DVO uses shim stacks on both compression and rebound circuits, meaning damping is dynamic, with oil flow speed continually affecting damping force. Precise, usable external adjustments include high and low-speed compression and low-speed rebound with more clicks than rivals in most parameters.
DVO’s unique O.T.T. (Off The Top) feature tunes the first 30 per cent of travel, without changing the remaining 70 per cent. Winding a 5mm Allen key nut inwards on the lower leg (with all positive air released) preloads a coil negative spring, in turn pushing the fork into its initial stroke. It’s so effective when fully wound-in that the Onyx can almost fully erase small vibrations and stutter-bumps and really glue the tyre to the ground for extra grip and tracking performance.
Using maximum O.T.T. feels very comfortable in rough terrain, with the fork really dipping into holes and hollows, and also really boosts grip levels in the wet and on steeps. The Onyx can even feel slightly too isolated from the ground if you overdo it but seeing as the effect can be reduced for a less hyperactive feel that’s more like rivals, it’s a great addition.
In terms of the positive spring, DVO doesn’t do clip-in volume-reducer spacers for a more progressive curve. We didn’t miss this feature, however, and we even struggled to achieve the last 10mm or so of travel with our preferred set-up. If needed, a simple way to increase ramp-up is to feed some oil in through the Schrader valve; on the other hand, any unwanted progression due to air pressure build-up in the lower leg casting (due to temperature, altitude variations or simply long, rough descents) can be expelled by the air release valves.
Out of the box, we had a couple of issues with the Onyx, including struggling to alter travel that’s supposedly adjustable via clip- on spacers – freeing the air-spring assembly proved impossible in our workshop, despite using a heat gun. Also, when the 170mm travel was set by the UK distributor, the small rebound dial had been left seized in the fully open position, requiring pipe grips to loosen before we could actually adjust the damping.
All this was quickly forgiven on the trail. The Onyx’s performance is truly coil-like, with an exceptionally smooth feel, making it equal best on test if you’re looking for the ultimate ground-tracing ride quality and sensitivity. This sensation creates tons of confidence on greasy or broken-up ground, with the front wheel literally slurping along the trail as it would with a lower tyre pressure. With so much grip on greasy, rock-flecked surfaces or tracking roots, it’s definitely a match for the supple and test- winning Fox 38, but that fork just trumps the Onyx in terms of overall stability and keeping hands and head level when really charging down continuously chaotic trails.
Aside from being heavy and producing a slight wheeze on rebound, there’s little to complain about here. Damping is always smooth and consistent in both directions and sensitivity is a match for the best on test – this DVO Onyx SC D1 is the best DVO fork we’ve tested to date.